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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #112163: Idioms : dogs, cats and mice.
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Animals | Speaking | Idioms [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - On the phone - Interacting with someone - Animals (video) - Dialogue : What time...? - Animals - Eating out-Vocabulary - Differences between Like and As - One/ They/ People....
    > Double-click on words you don't understand


    Idioms : dogs, cats and mice.


    It is a well-known fact that Anglo-Saxons are crazy about animals, and have quite a lot at home. These pets are part of the people's lives, therefore, it's not surprising to notice that they're very often mentioned in idioms. Let me remind you too, that as La Fontaine has shown it in his Fables, it's much easier and more convenient to criticize animals than to speak about oneself or one's neighbours!   

     

     

    1) Idioms dealing with dogs...

     
               

           To lead a dog's life = an unhappy life

                     Dog-eat-dog! 

         (a man is dangerous for other men)

                  

         She's dressed like a dog's dinner  

               ( = in a ridiculous way...)

               Let sleeping dogs lie!

         (= Let's not look for trouble!)

           

                  A three-dog night

               = a very cold night*

              It rains cats and dogs !

              = it's raining heavily!

    * "a three-dog night" is a very cold night, when dogs have to cuddle and huddle to keep warm, "three" being the minimum number of dogs to guarantee efficiency!  

     

    2) Expressions mentioning cats...

                          

              "She let the cat out of the bag 

             = She talked about the secret. 

                        Curiosity kills the cat ! 

             = Curiosity can be dangerous...  

                  

    She's the cat's whiskers(GB)/the cat's meow (US)

    nec plus ultra= the best!

             Put the cat among the pigeons ...

             = Look for trouble...

                  

    ... like a cat on a hot tin roof!(on red bricks)!

    = a very uncomfortable  position

        When the cat's away, the mice will play...

     

     

    3) After cats... mice! 

    Reminder: the word "a mouse" has an irregular plural in English: a mouse=> two mice. 

                    

              To play cat and mouse   

             

          ... as poor as a church mouse. 

            

                    
        I can smell a rat= I'm sure there's a trap! 

                     As quiet as a mouse 

                  A dust mouse

                     A "mouse potato"*

                 

    * "A mouse potato"= "an addict to the computer" as an imitation to the expression "a couch potato"= the person who is slouching on a couch, in order to watch TV, swallowing "junk food". (= very unhealthy "food") 

    This was the first series of idioms concerning animals...  Let's hope that dogs, cats and mice have got on well together! 



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